Olmert with Abbas (archive)
Photo: Amos Ben Gershom
Olmert won't announce prisoner release for Ramadan
Prime minister to meet with Palestinian president in Jerusalem on Monday ahead of upcoming peace summit in Washington. Official says Israel not expected to release Palestinian prisoners as Ramadan goodwill gesture

"Israel releases Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture for Ramadan every year. The issue was studied this year as well and no decision has been made yet. In any case Olmert is not expected to

announce a prisoner release during the meeting tomorrow," said a senior official in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office ahead of his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem on Monday.


Israeli State officials hope that the two would further their talks on a possible future agreement. Olmert and Abbas' chiefs of staff - Yoram Turbowicz and Rafiq al-Husseini are expected to begin drafting proposals after the holiday season. They will likely be joined by top negotiators Shalom Turgeman and

Saeb Erekat.


At this point Jerusalem is waiting to see if Olmert and Abbas can agree on some of the more problematic negotiations points such as a return to the 1967 borders, dividing Jerusalem and the Palestinian demand for the right of return.


Monday's meeting will be held at Olmert's official residence at noon. After a brief session with their respective entourages in attendance, Olmert and Abbas will move on to speak in private. The prime minister's office noted that these private conversations are not documented by any third party.


The talks will also focus on day-to-day security and civilian matters such as easing restrictions on border crossings, providing military aid to the Palestinian government and releasing prisoners.


Sources with Olmert's office said that expectations should be lowered for any significant progress at Monday's meeting. "At this point we must strengthen Abbas' government and assist him in building up his

security might and institutes of governance," added senior State officials.


"The steps Abbas is taking show he is determined to push ahead with the negotiations while combating Hamas and the terror organizations. There is still much distance to cover and it is unclear if we'll manage to outline any understandings to be used as a base for the Washington summit in the fall."  


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